Well, that was a Detroit Pistons basketball game, wasn’t it?
It wasn’t one of those fun, “wow, the kids look great,” kind of games. It wasn’t one of those, “wow, the veterans are gonna win another game for no reason,” either. No, it was the worst of both worlds. Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Cory Joseph rested in San Antonio.
Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey got the keys to the car and, unlike earlier this week against Cleveland, they got blown out by the Spurs, 106-91.
Now, you could say it was a must-lose game. The Orlando Magic slid into a tie for the third-worst record in the NBA after enduring a 35-point shellacking at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Like always, Detroit fought. They trailed by as many as 16 and rallied to within 3 points in the late third quarter. Down the stretch, though, the offense slowed down as the Spurs young players simply outplayed the Pistons’ kids.
Josh Jackson had one of those games, though.
He poured in 16 of his 29 points in the first quarter, hitting jumpers and confidently getting to his spots near the rim. There are still too many lapses in his game to rely upon him as a scorer in the starting lineup, but there’s no reason he can’t be a strong sixth man scorer on a playoff team.
Speaking of sparkplug scorers, Frank Jackson had another nice night with 14. It’s too bad there isn’t much playmaking in his game, because Jackson’s scoring has proven to be sustainable and, really, legitimate.
Considering we’re watching the Spurs, I couldn’t help but think of a good comparison for him: Gary Neal. Another unheralded guy who was a good scorer, but mostly a shooter, who just went out and did his job.
That’s about it for the good stuff.
After playing the best game of his young career against the Cavaliers earlier this week, it looked like Hayes was primed for another career night in San Antonio. He scored 10 points in the first half, hitting a 3-pointer and some nice slashing layups like this:
Killian draws the foul on Jones for the and-1 pic.twitter.com/e6lpVtV7Io— CaDetroit (@RedAlternates) April 23, 2021
The second half was another story. Hayes struggled to find his spots, and had work hard on the other end against Derrick White (26 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists). The Spurs are far from what they used to be, but they play that same tough brand of basketball.
Oh, and those little Killian lobs to Stewart around the rim that worked so well against the Cavs? Those were shut down by the Spurs’ trees down low, Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks. Stewart struggled against that size, missing some bunnies early and finishing with 8 points and 13 rebounds.
Can I also say that Keldon Johnson, the Spurs’ up-and-coming wing, was a guy I would have LOVED for the Pistons to grab a few years back late in the first round. He’s such a fun player, a good rebounder and improving shooter. He’s just a dog you want on your team.
You may also remember that was the pick that ended up being Kevin Porter Jr., who was traded to Cleveland for the right to draft up-and-coming benchwarmer Deividas Sirvydis.
Saddiq Bey scored 9 points on 2/6 shooting, tweaking his ankle on in the third and never looking the same after. Hopefully that’s not an issue over the final month.
You know, I find myself looking at these teams the Pistons are playing nowadays and trying to figure out if they’re moving in the right direction. San Antonio is kind of on the Treadmill of Mediocrity, as our ScottFL calls it. They have good young players, but none of them look like future stars—even Dejounte Murray, who sat with an injury tonight along with their fading star, DeMar DeRozan.
If the Spurs were in the Easts, they’d probably be very Knicksy, close to homecourt.
But instead, they’re just stuck in the middle.
Hopefully, in three years or so, we aren’t thinking the same with the Pistons.